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Are Recessions Good For Your Health?

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  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between economic conditions and health. Fixed-effect models are estimated using state level data for the 1972-1991 time period. Health is proxied by total and age- specific mortality rates, as well as by 10 particular causes of death. Total mortality and nine of the ten sources of fatalities exhibit a procyclical variation, with suicides representing the important exception. The fluctuations in mortality are larger for 20-44 year olds than for older individuals. The predicted relationship between personal incomes and health is quite weak and is sensitive to the choice of model specifications, time periods and dependent variables. These findings suggest the possible importance of cyclical variations in the time costs of medical care or healthy lifestyles and of negative health effects of job-holding.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5570.

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Date of creation: May 1996
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Publication status: published as Ruhm, Christopher J. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2000, v115(2,May), 617-650.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5570

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  1. Brenner, M. Harvey & Mooney, Anne, 1983. "Unemployment and health in the context of economic change," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(16), pages 1125-1138, January.
  2. Chaloupka, Frank, 1991. "Rational Addictive Behavior and Cigarette Smoking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 722-42, August.
  3. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1991. "Are Workers Permanently Scarred by Job Displacements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 319-24, March.
  4. Wagstaff, Adam, 1985. "Time series analysis of the relationship between unemployment and mortality: A survey of econometric critiques and replications of Brenner's studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 21(9), pages 985-996, January.
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  7. Christopher Ruhm, 1994. "Economic Conditions and Alcohol Problems," NBER Working Papers 4914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Health Insurance Eligibility, Utilization of Medical Care, and Child Health," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 431-66, May.
  9. Philip J. Cook & George Tauchen, 1982. "The Effect of Liquor Taxes on Heavy Drinking," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 379-390, Autumn.
  10. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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  12. Hammarström, Anne & Janlert, Urban & Theorell, Töres, 1988. "Youth unemployment and ill health: Results from a 2-year follow-up study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 26(10), pages 1025-1033, January.
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  15. Theodore J. Joyce & Naci H. Mocan, 1991. "Unemployment and Infant Health: Times-Series Evidence from the State of Tennessee," NBER Working Papers 3694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. John Bound, 1991. "Self-Reported Versus Objective Measures of Health in Retirement Models," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 106-138.
  17. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
  18. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1995. "Non-Employment and Health Insurance Coverage," NBER Working Papers 5228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Forbes, John F. & McGregor, Alan, 1984. "Unemployment and mortality in post-war Scotland," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 239-257, December.
  20. Phelps, Charles E & Newhouse, Joseph P, 1974. "Coinsurance, the Price of Time, and the Demand for Medical Services," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(3), pages 334-42, August.
  21. Kathryn H. Anderson & Richard V. Burkhauser, 1985. "The Retirement-Health Nexus: A New Measure of an Old Puzzle," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(3), pages 315-330.
  22. Junankar, P N, 1991. "Unemployment and Mortality in England and Wales: A Preliminary Analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 305-20, April.
  23. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. How Unemployment Can Make You Sick
    by David Dayen in firedoglake on 2010-12-29 00:45:39
  2. Does Unemployment Lead to Less Healthy Diets?
    by David Wessel in Real Time Economics on 2010-12-27 10:45:00
  3. Is this recession good for your health?
    by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-04-25 07:15:53
  4. AIG: The Fifth Horseman?
    by Charles Kenny in a fistful of euros on 2009-06-30 13:38:45
  5. Bad economy may be good for your health
    by Jason Shafrin in Healthcare Economist on 2008-10-08 06:13:21
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